Released 1915 (USA)
American, in English (the film is silent but the scene cards are in English)
Director - D.W. Griffith
Stars - Lillian Gish, Henry B. Walthall, George Siegmann, Mae Marsh
A rather slanted look at the Civil War and Reconstruction. Gish co-stars as Elsie Stoneman, a U.S. senator’s daughter; Walthall as Ben Cameron, a Stoneman family friend, Southern colonel, and Elsie’s one-time paramour; Marsh as Ben’s sister, Flora; and Siegmann as Silas Lynch, a biracial Reconstruction politician.
Violence; use of a racial slur.
This is the most ridiculously racist pile of poop I’ve ever had the displeasure of watching in my life. All of the biracial and black characters are either dumb, lazy, evil, or a combination of all three. The KKK members are the good guys in this. Let that sink in for a moment. The KKK is the hero of this movie.
The acting is terrible. I’ve seen silent films that have good acting, so I know it’s not the medium.
At 190 minutes, it’s way, way too long. Many scenes are interminable.
I have to admit that it’s pretty cool to see a movie that’s 100 years old. It’s difficult to believe that full length feature films have been around for that long.
A lot of the practical effects were well done. I frequently found myself wondering how many of those poor stuntmen got hurt, since this was made before the days of labor standards.
This movie offends me on every level imaginable, to the point where I’m seething with so much rage that I can hardly type. It showcases every terrible (and inaccurate) stereotype about blacks imaginable. It’s white supremacist propaganda.
This movie has no business on a modern-day (compiled in 1998 if you’ll recall) list of “best movies ever made.” Even if you ignore all the racism (BTW, any black or biracial character that has a “foreground” role is played by a white person in black face), it’s objectively not a very good film. While the practical effects are impressive, the acting is bad, the editing is lacking (it meanders endlessly), and I have grave doubts as to its historical accuracy, particularly in regards to Reconstruction. Just because it’s one of the first feature length films ever made doesn’t mean it deserves a place in the top 100.
I give it .25 star, but only because I don’t believe in giving no stars. Honestly, it deserves about -1,000,000,000 stars.